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Single Side Drain System

All photos are thumbnails, click on a picture to see a larger version

In all their wisdom Fleetwood Folding Trailers began designing pop ups with two drains, one on the back side and one on the front "living" side.  I understand their reasoning, we as pop up owners are demanding more "stuff" inside.  To make it happen they need to drain the water from our sinks and showers somehow, but it is up to us to direct that water where we want it to go.

Now, on my 2005 Niagara I have the shower drain on the back side where all the other mechanical type stuff is.  This includes the dinette slide, hot water heater, and refrigerator access panels..  The drain on this side is really not a problem, as a matter of fact it is where I would want to put my gray water container to keep it out of the way.  The "living side" of the pop up is where problems start to occur.  This is the side with the door and awning, where most of us spend time at the pop up.  On this side there is an additional drain, (for the kitchen sink).

I guess the simplest way to beat the "two drain" problem is to have two gray water containers.  On our first couple of trips in the Niagara this is what we did, but I really didn't like a gray water container in the middle of my camping living space.  

Another option was pointed out to me:

I just use two "custom" fit garden hoses and wye them together before dumping them in a bucket or connecting them to a sewer outlet at the RV park. On my Sequoia, the "curbside" drain hose can run underneath the trailer through the 'U' shaped pieces that are welded to the frame (for shipping purposes). Some male and female fittings are needed, along with some garden hose remnants and a wye (the kind without a shut-off so the water flow is not restricted).

Now, as I like a project my solution got a little more involved

My solution is to install a PVC pipe from the front side of the pop up to the back side.  Now on my unit both drains were aft of the wheels so that determined where the pipe would run.

Crawling under the pop up (no easy task when you are my size) I found a support rail that ran between the side frame rails, just aft of the wheels.  I chose this rail as my path.

Now following good plumbing practice I knew I needed some slope from front to back.  To make things easy I chose one inch drop over the full width.  While this may not be to "code", I won't be draining anything other than kitchen sink water through this pipe so I figure it will work.  Now I attached the pipe in four locations

  • Front side - attached to bottom of the frame rail, no drop
  • 27 inches in from front side - dropped 1/4"
  • 54 inches from front side - dropped 3/4"
  • Back side - attached to bottom of the frame rail, dropped 1"


P0002461.JPG (393977 bytes)  

The photo to the left shows the support rail I ran the PVC pipe along.  If you look closely you can see that it has a 90 degree bend on the bottom. 


P0002459.JPG (75737 bytes) My first thought was to notch a 2 X 4 and bolt it to the support rail.  It would then be easy to hang the PVC from this piece of wood.  Looking at it I found out that this would bring the pipe too far forward and would interfere with the wheel wells at both sides, plus I was worried about rot.  Ah well, on to plan two....
P0002469.JPG (126868 bytes)


I settled on PVC deck balusters (pickets) which are available at most home improvement stores.  While they look like a wooden  2 X 2 they are in fact a little smaller.  I liked the fact that I would not need to worry about rot.

To the left you can see I cut two sections for each support.  I bolted them together and through the support with 10-24 stainless steel bolts and capped them off with "nylox" locking nuts. Be sure to paint any areas of the frame you drill and/or scratch.

The PVC pipe is hung using galvanized pipe hanger strap which is held in place by the two bolts.  I also put a few wraps of duct tape around the PVC pipe so that the vibration of towing would not cause the hanger strap to cut into the pipe.

P0002471.JPG (93263 bytes) Once the pipe was in place I put a wrap of plastic hanger tape around it, just to be safe.

While the galvanized hanger was probably sufficient, I just couldn't get the PVC "snug" against the bottom of the bracket because I ran the bolts completely through the support, bracket and hanger tape at both sides.  Using the plastic tape I was able to snug things up a little.

P0002472.JPG (172150 bytes)  

On the sides I did use 2 X 4 to support the pipe.  Here you see one side support.  The 2 X 4 was bolted to the side rail (again stainless fasteners and painted all drilled holes) and the pipe was hung using plastic hanger tape.


P0002473.JPG (142036 bytes) Here you see the PVC pipe sticking out on the "living side" of the pop up.

Now that the pipe is firmly held in place all that is left is to connect the plumbing.

P0002468.JPG (120821 bytes) Step one is to terminate the pipes.  The stock drain on a Fleetwood is threaded for standard 1 1/2" PVC.  So here you see a threaded adaptor screwed on the pop up drain then a 90.

Note that these connections are made without PVC cement.  As there is no pressure on the system "friction fit" should work fine.

Note Update Below for this step

P0002478.JPG (80221 bytes) Filling the gap is a piece of flex pipe.  I used rigid sump pump drain hose, but almost anything that has flex to it will work.  I added adaptors and small sections of 1" PVC pipe to connect the two sections together.

Note Update Below for this step

P0002467.JPG (128399 bytes) Now the back side is going to be a little more complicated.  First of all the new drain pipe must connect to two things on the back side:
  • Shower Drain
  • Gray water container

Here you see that the drain pipe has a "T" installed on it  and the shower drain has an adaptor just like the  one on the front sink drain.  

P0002479.JPG (151232 bytes) Here you see the back side connected together.  The hose that leads to the ground is the one that will go into my gray water container.  Now both the front and rear drains flow into a single container.  Plus, should we stay at a campsite  having a sewer connection I can just drain everything there

During travel, all the parts will be removed so only the pipe under the pop up body will remain.

Update to Single Side Drain System

After looking at the 2006 Niagara, I decided i liked the new way they connected the front plumbing to the rear of the pop up.  As I already had the main line running under the pop up I just needed to connect the front sink drain to it.

DSC02599.JPG (2084419 bytes) My first step was to cut the pipe under the sink and remove the drain line going out of the pop up.  If you don't have plans for this space, you can just leave the pipe sticking out with the cap in place.
DSC02598.JPG (2121743 bytes) I selected a pot inside of the wheel well to drill a hole through the floor for the pipe to exit down through the floor.  Be careful to select a spot that will not conflict with all the "stuff" under your pop up.  This includes frame rails, lifter cables, gas lines and stuff like that.  After you have the hole it is a simple process using a couple of PVC elbows to redirect the drain down through the floor.  You will note that the elbow to the right in my photo is not PVC, but a rubber one.  This allowed me to more easily connect the two runs of pipe.
DSC02605.JPG (2195950 bytes) Under the pop up I cut the main line running side to side and joined it to the pipe sticking through the floor with a couple of elbows.

Final Thoughts

I think I am going to enjoy this modification.  While it may seem a bit complicated it will make the dual drain problem less of a hassle. The only ongoing problem I see is that I now have several sections of drain pipe to worry about loosing.  Additionally, now that the front is connected all the time it is one less thing to loose or set up.

Additionally I have been asked why did I avoid a permanent setup by using flex-pipe instead of glued PVC?  The main reasons were availability of parts and width (they tie together).  Coming off the stock threaded drain I used a 1 1/2" straight threaded connector which then transitions to a "street" 90 degree. These two parts together are around 5 inches times two sides makes me almost a foot wider. I'm just not comfortable making my PU that much wider, just something else to worry about while towing. Now, I could have eliminated the straight 1 1/2" threaded connector buy replacing it with a 90 degree that is threaded. But, a threaded 90 is not widely available (i.e. a supply house part) and threading it on the existing threads sticking out of the side of the pop up does not guarantee that it would be facing in the correct direction when it was snug.  I can put my system together in less than 5 minutes, so I'm happy with it.

Now, what would I have done differently?  I may have selected a different flex pipe other than the rigid sump pump hose.  While it has several features I like (i.e. it is fairly rigid and has a diameter that will allow water to flow easily) it was just a hair too small to connect together the way I did it.  The 1" pipe I tried to slide it over is just a little too big so I had to force it together.  A little heat from a hair dryer softened it up to help get the sections together.


   Revised: July 04, 2006


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